Saul Niguez has been cast into the limelight after the player’s heroics in the UEFA Champions League. The 21-year-old scored a dazzling goal against Bayern Munich on Wednesday night.
He picked up the ball in the middle of park waltzed past three of their players like they weren’t there and curled it beautifully into the bottom corner past Manuel Neuer. Having been on the brink of leaving Atletico he has now become one of their most crucial players.
Niguez is only 21 and has done really well in the absence of the injured Tiago, fitting into the Atletico side almost seamlessly.
Here are 7 facts you might not know about him
7) He scored a ‘Golazo’ against Real Madrid last year
Saul Niguez scored a wonderful solo effort against Bayern but that wasn’t the first spectacular goal he has scored. The whole world saw what this kid was made of when he faced the side that took him in as a youngster.
In February 2015, Niguez scored an acrobatic goal against Real Madrid during their 4-0 humiliation by Atletico Madrid. The midfielder made a run into the box adjusted his body extremely well and scored the perfect bicycle kick past Iker Casillas.
6) He comes from a family of footballers
It looks like football runs is in Niguez’s genes.His father José Antonio played for their hometown club Elche for several years and also played in the first division in the 1984-85 season. He played as a striker for a total of 10 seasons.
Niguez has two brothers Jonathan and Aaron Niguez who are also footballers. Both are elder to him and play for professional clubs. Aaron Niguez is 27 and plays for Braga in Portugal while his eldest sibling Jonathan plays for Slovenian club Koper.
5) He was bullied when he was at Los Blancos
Saul Niguez is a Real Madrid youth product. He joined the club at the age of 11, but didn’t have the best of times with there. He was the subject of bullying and harsh treatment by people unknown to him when he was at the club.
In an interview with ‘El Mundo’ he said, “During that year with Madrid I learned many things, I matured a lot. It was a difficult year, because many non-sporting things were happening.”
“They robbed my boots, food (…) They stopped me from going to Valdebebas for two weeks for things I’d not done. They passed a letter to the manager saying I had written it. I said I’d not done it because I really had not done it.”
The youngster endured a lot of suffering in that year and he decided to leave the club and join Atletico Madrid. It’s turned out to be a very wise decision given how he has developed.
4) Both Manchester United and Arsenal wanted to sign him
United and Arsenal are very attractive destinations for the best players in the world because of their status as well as financial power. They usually try and sign the best youngsters in the world and Saul NIguez was one of their targets.
In January. Arsenal reportedly had a bid rejected by Atletico Madrid which was said to be around £23 million. Manchester United are the latest club to be interested in the midfielder but the youngster has recently quashed their hopes saying he wants to stay at the Calderon for life!
3) Atletico have sold 40% of his rights to a fund
Saul Niguez has an unusual clause in his contract. It certainly is one of the more interesting player contracts to have been drawn up. Football Leaks has revealed that part of his rights have been sold to an investment fund.
Atletico sold 40% of his rights for around €1.5 million to an investment fund called Quality Football Ireland. The amount will be paid to the organization if Saul is sold to another club,if he renews his contract or even if it expires. Certainly a bizarre deal but the company will not have any say in transfer matters over the player.
2) Diego Simeone stopped him from leaving the club
Saul Niguez recently stated in an interview that he wanted to stay at Atletico for life. A big reason for that has been the trust that has been placed on him by the manager But there was a point when the youngster wanted to leave as he was not getting enough minutes at the club.
In an interview with Cadena COPE, his father said his son was finding it difficult at Atletico when Simeone himself stepped in. “He thought about leaving and we were set to leave the club because he wanted more minutes to continue the progression from last season with Rayo. “
“Logically, we asked to leave because we saw that he wasn’t getting the minutes we thought he would but the one who counted on him was the manager and he said that he is counting on him and asked him to have patience, as did the club. Therefore, we decided to stay.“
1) Barcelona have first refusal on his transfer
If Saul already had a weird right’s contract his transfer clause is also equally unusual. According to the deal, that took striker David Villa in 2013 from Barcelona to Atletico Madrid the Catalans have first refusal on the youngster’s transfer as well.
If the club decide to sell Saul then Barcelona have the option of matching any offer made for him and can chose to sign him over their rivals. Saul is one of two players involved in the agreement , the other being right-back Javier Manquillo who is currently on loan at Marseille.